Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the active-duty Marine officer who caught viral attention for criticizing the leadership decisions in the U.S. evacuation in Kabul, Afghanistan, is now saying he wants to prosecute Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie for dereliction of duty.
In a video released on Thursday, Scheller said his continued criticisms of military leadership could result in pre-trial confinement and an escalation in his legal status.
“To recap my position, in the fallout of Afghanistan I demanded accountability in my senior leaders and I stated then that I understood that I might lose my battalion commander seat, my retirement and my family’s stability,” Scheller said. “As it has played out, I have in-fact lost all three of those things.”
Scheller indicated that rather than pursuing a court-martial over his critical remarks, the Marines had offered him a non-judicial punishment and separation under honorable conditions, so long as he is willing to give up his commission and not fight for his retirement.
“The reason I can’t let it go and the reason I’m not just taking an offer is because I feel like there are general officers in our institution who aren’t being held accountable,” Scheller said.
Scheller then questioned why Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been called before Congress last week to testify about the decisions made during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but no one within military leadership had similarly offered testimony before Congress.
Addressing McKenzie, Scheller said, “You made comments that are public record on August 31st, that stated you made bad assumptions, that you left hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan, and then you itemized pieces of equipment that total hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“I know you are a great American,” Scheller continued. “I know you didn’t intend to fail. I know you have served very honorably and are probably a great leader. That doesn’t absolve you from the accountability of your bad assumptions.”
“I have read the entire UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] in the last two weeks of my purgatory, all of the punitive articles,” Scheller said. “And it turns out that all military officers are subject to the UCMJ,” Scheller said in the video. “Because it appears to me that no general officers are willing to hold each other accountable, I am submitting charges against Gen. McKenzie for his bad assumptions – not because I’m vindictive, but because the senior leaders need to be held accountable to the same standard as us.”
McKenzie is the commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), whose area of operations includes the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Scheller further explained the charges he planned to file against McKenzie in a Facebook post.
Scheller specified 13 different reasons he believes a charge of dereliction of duty should apply to McKenzie.
In the video, Scheller said he plans to send the charges up through his chain of command, as well as file them directly with “the former Raytheon board director, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin” and simultaneously file a complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office.
While Scheller said he has the authority as an officer to bring charges against McKenzie, a CENTCOM spokesperson told Task & Purpose that is not the case.
“Although any person subject to the UCMJ may prefer charges, only a commander who has court-martial convening authority may refer those charges to a court-martial,” Air Force Maj. Nicole Ferrara told Task & Purpose.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Gary D. Solis, who served as a military judge and a law professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, also told Task & Purpose that service members have the right to make allegations of wrongdoing against other troops, but not to bring the charges themselves.